Reserve plan upsets residents

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 06/12/2012
Dagmar St reserve
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ
POPULAR SPOT: Children from Dannevirke’s Central Kindergarten visit the Dagmar St reserve which could be rezoned by the Tararua District Council.

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News that a Dannevirke reserve could be turned into pensioner housing has upset nearby residents.

Tararua District Council is considering changes to pensioner housing in Dannevirke, including rezoning the Dagmar St reserve site for future flat developments, which has caused nearby residents to see red.

Hamlet St resident Dereck Rose, whose street backs onto the reserve, said the council had failed to communicate properly with the community.

"No-one in this area ever got the plan delivered or knew it was happening.

"The council was . . . probably hoping everyone would lie down and let it happen."

He said the feeling was unanimous among the community and at a street meeting at the start of the month, more than 50 people turned up in support.

"Nobody wants pensioner flats over here, it's a green area, it's a park, and we should keep it that way forever."

Tararua District Council chief executive Blair King said residents were given the chance to share their thoughts during the Long Term Plan public submissions phase in May, and they were more in favour of "yes, go ahead and do this, than, no, don't touch it".

"The usual story is, although we consult, the true test is when you go to put a spade in the ground whether people actually agree."

The council had bigger issues on its hands with caring for the elderly demographic in Tararua, he said.

"We can understand people have very strong views about their bit of green space . . . but the residents around there aren't the only ones affected.

"Council are trying to balance the needs of one lot of residents, or ratepayers, with another.

"Their view of what should happen and council's view of balancing the margin is probably never going to meet - well, it's just the reality, but council recognises and needs to meet the demand for this kind of housing."

Central Kindergarten head teacher Hilary Hirst visits the reserve at least once or twice a week with the kindergarten's 30 or so children and said allowing the reserve to be rezoned would strip the community of a shared treasure.

"It would be a real disappointment and a real shame if it happened, because it is such a wonderful resource for all of the community. Every day when I go home there are kids out in the park biking around and playing games and things, and our kids really love it when we go there."

A council-appointed consultant will look at a zoning change and will determine what will happen.

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- Manawatu Standard

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